Animal Advent Calendar

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You might not think a shark is particularly Christmassy or a rhino, erm . . . . how about a crab? Well, my eldest boy loves ALL the animals so, mix them up with some Christmas stars and it’s an Animal Advent Calendar.

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I do like the chocolate ones and ‘Yes! I would like a chocolate Advent Calendar thank you very much’  but until Rupes cottons on to the chocolate element, there  won’t be any in these pockets.  He is desperate to look in all the pockets as it is, so if chocolate were involved it might just tip him over the edge. Lots of people do the advent book thing, which is nice and the books don’t have to be new. Other people give something each day rather than getting anything at all, which I would like to do with my boys when they are older and understand more. We are also pegging out a family photo a day, on a little string, in the lead up to Christmas, like this, my favourite picture of my grandparents:

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I’ve always enjoyed watching the passage of time with an Advent calendar, so I wanted something physical and visual which would appeal to a toddler.  I also like the idea of getting something out year, after year and making simple family traditions.

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I started making the calendar when I was pregnant with the twins but never really got it together in time for last year.  I had every intention of hand sewing little, felt decorations to go in the pockets, probably after seeing one on Pinterest.  All those twin hormones clearly made me completely over ambitious. It may still happen one day in the distant future but for now, there are plastic animals, purchased for the bargain price of five for a pound, and Christmas stars adorning the tree.

I’ve found life with a toddler to be full of extreme emotions, but everything about Christmas so far, with an almost three year old is well and truly bringing the magic back.

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Bank Holiday Inspiration

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What I will probably be doing this weekend is feeding babies, changing nappies etc, lots of walking about with my boys, maybe a bit of beach time and brunch time if I’m lucky.

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I will also be thoroughly enjoying the fact that we have Daddy around for an extra day.

But here are some crafty things I might be doing if I didn’t have three children under three as bank holidays are always good for getting your craft on. I am happy to spend the time I am stuck sitting feeding these little bundles finding cool stuff to do, even if I can’t do it myself just yet. I’m thinking we might manage one of the food related items on the list, Matt is a good baker!  And maybe you would like to do some of it, let me know how it goes if you do!

  1. These fudgy beetroot chocolate muffins look great and are kind of healthy, from the minimalist baker.
  2. This tote bag would be great for kids or an adult magnetic travel scrabble, from ducklings in a row.image
  3. One of these sweet little turtles from the purl bee would be a good weekend project.
  4. These flourless chocolate brownies from running with spoons are amazing! They also don’t contain any black beans, sweet potato or avocado. I like the idea of healthy stuff in brownies, but the reality not so much! After trying them and being disappointed several times, black bean brownies can just do one. These, however, I have tried and tested and are really yum.
  5. How about you crochet some cute slippers from meet me at mike’s, it might be April but I definitely witnessed hail today, so the slippers are here to stay for a while yet! image
  6. Get the kids involved and make these cats from Molly moo crafts so easy anyone can have a go.
  7. These DIY marbled mugs from Mollie makes are also super fast and would be a good way to use up your old nail varnishes.
  8. Or you could have a go at your very own dinosaur terrarium from turtle crafty girl.image

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you get a bit of sunshine and some fun times with good people. x

Dunga-shorts or Shortalls, even John Johns apparently

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I’m not really sure what the correct term for this item of clothing is, but I found all kinds of names whilst trawling the internet for a pattern/tutorial. Anyway, I have been dying to make some, what I like to call, ‘dunga-shorts’ ,ever since the sun has been out in force and I finally found the time at the weekend thanks to super dad.

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Made by Rae is where I found this free pattern and tutorial.  Rae has some really great patterns and how-tos, although this was from a guest blogger, it doesn’t link through anymore though, so I’ve taken you straight to the original on ikatbag’s site.  The instructions are really clear (I only messed up one part!) I did the simpler version without the waistband and just added the side pockets instead of all five. I didn’t want them to stand out, so I used the same fabric.  It would be fun to make lots of variations.

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I also added elastic around the bottom because they now look like those old-fashioned ones, which I just love, and make me want to squish Roo’s little chubby toddler legs even more than usual.

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I did use a contrast fabric for the lining as I thought the colours looked good together and Roo likes birds. The lining is some old (slightly faded if I’m honest) fabric from IKEA and the main fabric is an old shirt of Matt’s.  I used pretty much the whole shirt, whose collar and cuffs really had seen better days.  If I was super-organised, I would now be posting one of those before and after photos, but this week, sorry guys, it was one step too far.  Ah well, there’s always next time! 🙂

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The little fox came from Sass and Belle and was given to me by my lovely friend Laurel when Roo was born.  I have only just got around to making the perfect item of clothing for it to adorn now, 18 months later, but I think the fox was waiting for just the right thing to come along.

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In fact I think I love these so much, I’m feeling the need to make Roo at least two more sets!  I’ll let you know how that goes.

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I also made double amounts of dinner tonight so that my friend who has just had a little girl doesn’t have to cook tomorrow.  All I could think about with a newborn was home-cooked food as I was always starving (that lasted about 3 months!) and I just wanted to give the babe the good stuff.  I’m not able to do things like I used to now we have Roo but batch cooking was a small, but attainable kindness today and  it just feels really good to offer something like that.  So my friend and I both win (unless my cooking is really bad – haha!). I made this Four corners lentil soup, by Sarah Britton which is so yum, easy and quick and the easiest ever soda bread which is a real treat, thanks Laura for introducing me to The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook.

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Stitch your heart out quilt

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So . . . a patchwork quilt, it’s complete and my, oh my it was quite a task.  It’s going to be for Roo’s first proper bed but is doubling as a play mat at the moment, as he is still in his cot.

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This really was a labour of love, I think this is what mothers do for their children, for no particular reason, just because.  Sometimes mothers do these things and their children probably, no, definitely don’t even want them – hopefully it will stand the test of time and Roo will actually like it one day, he seems to think it’s alright now.

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I used different cotton fabrics collected from all over the place: the florals are new fabrics, the white was a worn out shirt belonging to Matt and the paisley a piece of fabric inherited from my Grandma.  I found the navy backing in a charity shop and the other plaid I have had for a long time, the first item of clothing I made for Rupert, a pair of summer trousers, was made from this.

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I still have to do a little bit of hand sewing to keep the wadding in place, but that’s ok, he hasn’t even got a bed yet!

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I have been reflecting a lot this week on the world’s events and to say it’s been a tough week for a lot of people is a drastic understatement.  It makes me grateful for what I have and without wanting to belittle daily feelings of frustration or tiredness or anxiety, which we all face at times, life is sharply put into perspective when you see others suffering real tragedy.  I recognise that I am small but I also feel an important sense of gratitude to have been able to give my son something I made for him this week, and to have done what I can do, by donating to the plight of the Nepalese.  Here are just two of the places you can do so too: here (Unicef) or here (Red Cross).  Do that and do something for or with someone you love.

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Daniel the Tiger

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So now the festive season is well and truly over and we have passed the milestone of Roo turning one, I can finally catch my breath and check in here; I’m sorry I’ve neglected you!  I also went back to work at the start of January – it’s been emotional.

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One of our nieces, drew Roo this picture of ‘Daniel’ the tiger before Christmas, he’s so sweet:

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I thought it would be fun to make her drawing into a toy to send to her as a Christmas gift.

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I cut him out of lovely organic linen and embroidered his stripes and face using cotton embroidery thread.

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I added some embroidery on the back and gave him a little knitted jumper to keep him cosy.

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He is a little mischievous though!  When it came to posting time, Daniel had to burn off some of that energy and Christmas excitement before his long trip to the USA.  First I found him here:

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And then here hanging with the swallows:

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It took a while to find him here:

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And here:

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He listened to a couple of his faves before getting into the Christmas spirit and then into the post:

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Making a toy from a child’s drawing was possibly one of the most fun things I’ve done!  I really enjoyed trying to make him resemble the drawing and seeing him come to life.

Winter Mountain Mobile

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I’m just a little bit obsessed with mountains at the moment, they are popping up everywhere over at our place.

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Oh and bears, bears feature heavily too.

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I have been meaning to make Roo a mobile since he was born, but it’s taken me a while!  Anyway, I was forced into it yesterday as at the weekend he destroyed his swallows mobile, which was my fault really as I should have moved them before he could get his paws on them.  They were still attached to the cot, from when he was very small, now that he is moving around and grabbing etc it was only going to be a matter of time before they got it.  They ‘got it’ after nap time two days ago when I walked in to find one of the birds crumpled in his hand.

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So yesterday afternoon I sewed the trees, mountains and bears:

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I spent the evening assembling the rest.  If you would like to have a go at making a mobile like this you will need the following:

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I knotted the fishing wire, and used a needle with a large eye to thread on the shapes and felt beads.  I tied each length of wire onto the inner circle from the embroidery hoop as well as some lengths for hanging and then tightened the outer circle over the top.

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I like the muted colours of the shapes with the brighter colours of the felt beads and the different lengths of wire.  I am going to add one of these on a ‘made to order’ basis to my Etsy, as well as some hanging decorations just in time for Christmas.

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Dinobaby

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Well, after the hand claps cushion I made for Father’s day, I couldn’t leave that lovely tweed alone and so I made this little guy for my little guy.

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I really love making toys, for some reason it is just so fulfilling, maybe it’s just because this one was made from something old and lovely into something new and sweet.

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It’s also fun to make toys as they don’t usually take as long.  You can whip up a dinosaur, zebra or sea otter(!) in an afternoon or evening, so there is an element of instant gratification which can be nice when you are crocheting monster blankets the rest of the time.

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Father’s Day Hand Claps Cushion

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This year, it was Matt’s first Father’s Day, so I thought I would make him something special that he could keep for years to come.  I decided it would be a nice memory to have Roo’s hands printed or something and this idea came about as I love embroidery and thought it would be something we could pass on to Roo eventually.

 

I know Matt is a fan of tweed and I picked up a nice Magee tweed jacket a few years ago in a charity shop, it was lovely fabric but huge!  My first thought when I bought it was to give it to someone who would wear it, but I just didn’t know anyone it would fit.  So, the Fantastic Mr Fox jacket became this Father’s day cushion:

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The cutting was all very free hand, but you could easily make your own version.  You will need these things:

One lovely old jacket,  one fabric pen or Sharpie, a tape measure or ruler, embroidery threads in your choice of colour,  cushion insert and a needle.

 

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I (carefully!) deconstructed the jacket to begin with, then I cut a 15 inch square from the back panel of the jacket, there is a seam that runs down the front of the cushion.  Then, I constructed the back of the cushion from the jacket button fastening and some squares from the front panels.

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I sewed the parts together and then fashioned this into a 15 inch square too using the front as a guide.

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I then drew round Roo’s hands and cut them out of paper.

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I used a fabric pen to draw around his hands and I was ready to start embroidering.  I split the thread into 3 strands and used chain stitch and a simple running stitch but the possibilities are endless.

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The last thing to do was to pin the front and back right sides together and then sew around the edges.  You could overlock or zigzag along the edges to make sure they don’t fray and I cut the corners to make it easier to turn out.  Lastly turn right side out push the corners out and stuff with your cushion insert. C’est fait mon cher!

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